Bun B, lawsuit, trill Burgers

Judge Rules Against Bun B’s Trill Burgers Amid Recipe Theft And Financial Misconduct Lawsuit

Trill Burgers' assets have been frozen until a future hearing.

Bernard “Bun B” Freeman’s restaurant Trill Burgers has been entangled in a lawsuit that alleges Freeman and his business partners, Andy Nguyen and Nick Scurfield, stole the recipe for the smashburgers from their former business partners, siblings Patsy and Benson Vivares. In addition, the Vivareses allege that they were pushed out of the business. Meanwhile, Freeman and his partners allege that the Vivares siblings stole $45,000 from Trill Burgers following the concept’s debut at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2021 to pay off debts at Sticky’s Chicken, another restaurant they owned at the time. 

As Chron.com reports, on May 23, a judge ruled in favor of the Vivares siblings, granting an injunction against the restaurant and its owners, as well as any related companies. This means that Trill Burgers remains open for business as normal, but it will not pay out any management fees to its current ownership group. In addition, Trill Burgers has been ordered to repay attorney’s fees and cannot hire any additional counsel. For Freeman and his partners, this means that the $5,000 monthly payments from Trill Burgers will cease pending the lawsuit’s resolution. 

As a result of the injunction, the Vivares siblings must also be notified two weeks before any transactions in excess of $10,000 and receive copies of all financial activity relating to the LLCs formed after they left the company. Since the pair left, LLCs were created for the restaurant’s flagship brick-and-mortar establishment, the pop-up Trill Burgers stands at Houston Texans games, and Trill Tenders, a pop-up serving chicken tenders. 

Lawyers representing Trill Burgers say that this arrangement could cripple the establishment and also makes it impossible for the company to pay its employees, its lease, and other required expenses to remain operational. 

As KPRC reports, an attorney representing Freeman and Trill Burgers, Charles Adams, argued that some of the Vivares’ allegations could be considered racist tropes. In their countersuit, they allege that Freeman’s associations made them fearful. “Patsy and BJ were dumbfounded, hurt, angry, and scared given Bun B’s connections and the nature of the allegations.”

Adams stated, “The attempt to portray Mr. Freeman as a gangster and a thug that the Vivares were afraid of is directly contradicted by Patsy Vivares’ own words in their text communications about the theft and dissolution of their partnership ‘I also want you to know that I knew and felt the respect you had for me and I was always proud of that, so I never wanted to ruin it bc I was humbled at the fact that of all the people in the world you could have worked on a food concept with, you chose us.’”

As Chron.com reports, the judge ruled in favor of the Vivareses by granting them the temporary injunction, but the lawsuit will continue to drag on while the restaurant celebrates its one-year anniversary at the flagship location. The court has scheduled the next hearing related to the case for June 10 to rule on the outcome of an emergency motion Schurfield filed to strike down the injunction due to an application filed by Trill Burgers to settle the matter via arbitration. Other hearings related to the case are scheduled for later in 2024, with both teams of lawyers seeking a resolution via jury trial.

RELATED CONTENT: Bun B Opens ‘Trill Burgers’ In The Heart Of Houston, Texas